GCV Powerlist 2020 Foreword by Young Sohn, GCV Leadership Society’s chairman and Samsung Electronics’ corporate president and chief strategy officer
Innovation. Disruption. Adaptability. This is the vocabulary that has shaped and reshaped every industry for the last decade. We’ve heard it time and again: The only way organisations can withstand the breakneck speed of the future is to embrace the new rules of business.
Yet, when the world came to a halt in mid-March, a new vocabulary emerged: Essential. Protection. Connection.
As we re-evaluate our priorities, many will question the wisdom of corporate venturing right now. Can we afford to invest in a time of contraction and loss? For our mother companies – this question may be difficult to answer when they are focused on the next quarter. Budget cuts seem to be the sensible path. Those of us in the CVC community, however, know that past recessions point us in a different direction: Those who have survived downturns, even emerged stronger, benefitted from investing in the right innovation.
Even as Covid-19 has greatly impacted our economy, it has revealed immense opportunities to not only grow but also meet critical needs. For example, the benefits of telehealth have been long acknowledged, especially for rural areas, but in an industry that still relies on pagers and fax machines, have predominantly remained analogue. Since March, however, virtual checkups have become standard, with non-urgent virtual care increasing by more than 4,000% according to one study.
Mass adoption – a sudden step function – is happening across technologies, from video conferencing to cashless payment to digital services. Overnight, our homes have transformed from a family space to our office, health clinic, retail store, school, theatre, gym and bank. Yet the infrastructure to support this change is only beginning to be established.
The pandemic didn’t change the rules – agility and creativity are more crucial than ever. Instead, it has created a crucible where some technologies will flourish, and it’s our job to decipher which those are.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t have an obligation to move forward with circumspection. It’s more crucial than ever to enter this time with open eyes and confront the challenges we know we will face, such as privacy, data use and the scrutiny of how we use technology in our everyday lives. And we must recognise the shortcomings of our past, especially where we have failed to include diverse coalitions in this work. But by professionalising our approach, building the infrastructure for better training and industry standardisation, and approaching diversity with intention, we can avoid many of the pitfalls we’ve encountered in the past.
At Samsung, we see this challenge as a moment to lead. And with years of experience in semiconductors, mobile, the cloud and artificial intelligence, we’re well-positioned to do so.
While we navigate the present storm, those of us in the CVC community must read the tailwinds and navigate forward. Our value is not merely the returns we bring, but the strategy we offer, a stomach for uncertainty, and the foresight that comes from exploration. Now, more than ever, we must help our mother companies see beyond the tempest to the possibility that awaits on the horizon.
With so much unknown, there has never been a better time for bold investments in great ideas. This is where the lessons we’ve learned – innovation, disruption, adaptability – can truly serve the values we hold.
After all, we’re not just investing in companies or technology. We’re investing in the future of our world.